The Apparatus Architect: Part 24 - Designing Rescue Squad Apparatus

Michael Wilbur and Tom Shand detail one of the most important items for your apparatus committee to consider: developing a comprehensive tool and equipment list.


In the July 2005 installment of The Apparatus Architect, we began our discussion on some of the considerations and design criteria when developing specifications for a rescue squad apparatus. One of the most important items for your apparatus committee to consider is developing a...


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The stainless steel rescue body was designed with 10 exterior compartments outfitted with an assortment of reels, including four electric cable reels that carry 200 feet and 300 feet of 10/4 cable, two 300-foot low-pressure air reels for tools and a four-bottle cascade system with a Space Saver two-bottle fill station. The squad is also equipped with an Amkus Ultimate rescue tool system that supplies five 125-foot hydraulic reels within the forward compartment on the body.

A great amount of thought went into the design of the interior of the body. A crew bench seat accommodates six riding positions, four large storage cabinets are equipped with heavy cargo netting and all hand tools are mounted on stainless-steel shelves with appropriate 9G-rated brackets. The body is provided with both heating and air conditioning, as well as a roof-mounted escape hatch and sliding body windows. The complete tool and equipment list for the unit is quite impressive and the mounting systems used provide ready access to all equipment and make "taking up" after an incident much easier.

The Berwyn Heights driver training program consists of a written exam and map test on knowledge of streets, highways, buildings and addresses within the department's response area. Practical driving skills start out in a parking lot with a prescribed course set up with traffic cones that require forward and backing up, loading dock, islands and offset maneuvers. This is followed by road driving for a minimum of 10 hours or 100 miles with a qualified driver training instructor. Finally, a written and practical exam is given that covers all of the components and equipment for each piece of apparatus.

The driving program starts with operation of the department ambulance, then onto the tiller position for the ladder truck. After qualifying as a tillerman, the next position is to become trained on the operation of the 1990 rescue squad unit. The final two driving qualifications include operation of the tractor for Truck 14 and then personnel can move onto the new Seagrave/Marion rescue squad apparatus.

The Berwyn Heights, MD, Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad is justifiably proud of its latest apparatus acquisition and the many years of working with heavy rescue squad units is readily apparent with how well laid out the tools and equipment are on the new Rescue Squad 14. Even with the best-designed apparatus and equipment, whenever you are driving or riding on the rig, you should always "expect the unexpected." Do not think for one moment that an accident won't happen to you, because if you think that this cannot happen to your department, you're wrong.

In the next installment of The Apparatus Architect we will discuss some of the various generator components and their impact on the overall design process for your rescue squad.

Appreciation is given to President Jim Ward of the Berwyn Heights, MD, Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad for providing information and comments that made this story possible.


Tom Shand, a Firehouse contributing editor, is a 33-year veteran of the fire service and works with Michael Wilbur at Emergency Vehicle Response, consulting on a variety of fire apparatus and fire department master-planning issues. He is employed by American LaFrance and is assigned to the Hamburg, NY, facility. Michael Wilbur, a Firehouse� contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He consults on a variety of apparatus-related issues around the country. For further information access his website at www.emergencyvehicleresponse.com.